Thursday, 7 May 2020


3.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon UK
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: it was submitted to Rosie's Book Review Team, of which I am a member.

In a Nutshell: Historical Fiction, 1909 Baltimore, murder mystery

A most professionally presented book, which centres around the murder of a showgirl.  Dr Sarah Kennecott is a doctor who happens to be on the autism spectrum, though of course this was not recognised in those days.  She becomes fascinated with the case and can't let it rest, despite much family and political opposition; she also has to contend with the attitude of the time towards professional, educated women.  Through her passionate interest in Lizzie Sullivan's murder, she becomes involved with Jack Harden, a down-on-his-luck private detective.  This association is not looked upon kindly.

The author clearly has a great love for his subject, and I appreciated the pictures drawn of the development of this new city, with its excitement and opportunity, but also its dark side: corruption, narcotics, prejudices.  It is most intelligently written (the author is a professional historian and archivist), and a most commendable debut.

The only problem for me with this book was that it lacked that spark that might have made it a real page-turner.  I felt a lack of suspense, and didn't become involved with the characters; they felt distant, and never became more than names on a page for me.  This could be just personal taste, though, as I often struggle with third person characters written in the omniscient narrator style.  I am sure that if the author works on his actual storytelling he could produce something marvellous in the future; the rest of it, I could not fault.

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